Youth Mainstreaming

“Youth mainstreaming” is a deliberate movement to increase the awareness and participation of young people throughout society. It’s a term I’ve run across in European youth literature, and one of several terms UNESCO uses that aren’t popular in the U.S. Youth mainstreaming seems to be an emerging idea whose time is coming. There is a fairly sophisticated body of work out there that we can learn from…

I think that the concept of youth mainstreaming could provide an important model for considering all the places and people throughout society who could benefit from active youth engagement. When I consider these places, I’m thinking about home, school, business, government, nonprofit organizations, places of worship, etc.  Even within these institutions we can use the concept of youth mainstreaming to guide conversations deeper. The people who can benefit from considering youth mainstreaming include elected officials, teachers, youth workers, parents, ministers, etc., and of course, young people themselves.

As I revisit the language of youth engagement, I’m concerned by the apparent lack of sophistication many American youth programs have when they’re considering this work. That’s why we should think about youth mainstreaming a little more.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Published by Adam

For almost two decades, Adam F. C. Fletcher has led international outreach focused on engaging people successfully. Working with thousands of youth-serving nonprofits, K-12 schools, government agencies, international NGOs and other organizations around the world, his work spans the fields of education, public health, economic development and social services, and includes professional development, public speaking, publishing, social media and more. He founded the Freechild Institute for Youth Engagement, SoundOut and CommonAction, as well as writing more than 50 publications and 500 articles. He has also established 150-plus community empowerment projects.

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1 Comment

  1. This is right on. I like the terms “youth mainstreaming and “intergenerational partnerships.” Other terms are vague and leave it up to the individual to define. “Intergenerational partnerships” strongly suggest that all ages/generations need to be at the table together with equal and valuable input.”Youth mainstreaming” underlines the fact that youth have a valuable and unique viewpoint which must be heard, respected and considered equally in all settings. The US is the only country that treats its youth as children until the age of majority.

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